Das Massaker, Part II: Three takeaways from FC Bayern v Borussia Dortmund
Bayern’s rivals were put to the sword in what was a dominant display for the hosts. There are still six weeks remaining in the current league campaign, but the Bavarians were able to put last week’s stumble in Freiburg and the midweek Pokal nerve-shredder far behind them.
Against SC Freiburg, Bayern were disappointing. There were long spells of nothingness, and moments where they felt that they could sleepwalk to all three points. Against 1. FC Heidenheim in midweek, it was much the same. Laziness, sloppiness, and a sense of entitlement that almost resulted in a monumental shock.
It was a shock, of sorts. A shock to the system, a shot in the arm that was desperately needed. It came just at the right time, and Dortmund were left to pay the price. Where Niko Kovač’s men had been lazy in previous matches, they were sharp. Where they had been profligate, they were lethal. Bayern were so good, they made Dortmund look incredibly poor. This was reflected in the scoreline, a result that simply does not happen when second and first place meet.
Last season, Die Roten netted a round half dozen against the Westphalians in what I dubbed Das Massaker. This was just as good, if not even better. Were it not for a sterling display between the sticks by Roman Bürki, the scoreline could have been even more gruesome for Lucien Favre’e side.
There was a plan, and that plan was backed up with commitment and passion. The men in red chased down every 50/50 ball, and fought for every challenge. They out-muscled and outclassed their opponents. The much-fêted Jadon Sancho was rendered anonymous, and superstar Marco Reus was reduced to chasing shadows and making ridiculous ankle-biting challenges. It showed that if the players put everything on the line, they can produce world-beating displays like this.
It was an evening to remember for Robert Lewandowski, who was switched on and geared up right from the start of the contest. If the Polish striker played like this in every match, we would be talking about gunning for a treble right now. Put simply, he was lethal.
Lewy’s first goal was somewhat fortunate, as Dortmund defender Dan-Axel Zagadou should never have been caught out so easily and so badly. But he made it look easy, collecting the ball before lifting it over Bürki to double Bayern’s lead and score his 200th Bundesliga goal. He is only the fifth player to reach the milestone, joining such legends as Jupp Heynckes and Gerd “Der Bomber” Müller.
Lewandowski was at his intense best, even too intense at times. Chased down and harried by the men in yellow almost every time he was on the ball, he did lose his cool when Thomas Delaney grabbed his arm in what looked like a clumsy invitation to dance a polka-mazurka. But this was a good thing. An intense Lewy is a sharp Lewy.
When the unselfish Serge Gnabry set up Lewy for his second goal right at the death, it was the least the Pole deserved.
No, I am not talking about the Dortmund defence, which was all over the place and at the same time nowhere to be seen. I am talking about the #KovacOut brigade, who have been making fools of themselves on social media for the past week. They were there like a bad smell following the draw in Freiburg, and were screeching loudly when ten-man Bayern finally overcame Heidenheim.
But today? Where were they?
The Bayern coach had taken plenty of stick coming into this match. Earlier in the week after the Heidenheim game, he had compared the players to children. Naturally, the detractors were out in force to throw in their two Pfennigs worth. It was if some of these plastic Erfolgsfans actually wanted Dortmund to win, if just to justify their almost ideological desire to see Kovač fail.
Some of these armchair critics should start watching Kovač on the sidelines, and how he acts. He cares. His reaction this evening was telling, particularly the leaping, emotionally-fuelled celebration after Javi Martínez scored the third goal. The haters will keep sniping, but those of us who consider ourselves genuine fans should just back the coach. Not just to secure the domestic double this season, but to press on going forward into the next and beyond.